Schenectady County

Railex may be ready to move forward with expansion plan in Rotterdam

Railex could soon decide whether to move forward with plans to significantly expand its Rotterdam fa

Railex could soon decide whether to move forward with plans to significantly expand its Rotterdam facility, according to a proposal before the town’s Planning Commission.

The unique freight service is asking the town for a site plan waiver that would allow it to begin building a 65,000-square-foot addition onto its existing warehouse. The addition would increase the total square footage at the Rotterdam facility by roughly 22 percent.

Paul Esposito, vice president of sales and logistics for Railex, declined to discuss the expansion in much detail Monday. He said the proposal has been in the works for some time and would add 19 cargo bays to the existing 220,000-square-foot facility in the Rotterdam Industrial Park.

“It has to do with our business growth opportunities,” he said.

Members of the Planning Commission are expected to approve a waiver of site plan review during their meeting today. The waiver would allow Railex to begin the next phase of a project approved in 2005.

Ray Gillen, chairman of Schenectady County’s Metroplex Development Authority, said the company is seeking all the necessary approvals so the expansion plan can be pitched to its corporate executives. He said the company still hasn’t signed off on the project.

“They want to basically have a shovel-ready project,” he said.

In addition to approval by the town, Railex is also seeking a modification of its 10-year agreement with the Rotterdam Industrial Development Agency. Gillen said the company is seeking a sales tax exemption for building materials.

Under the existing agreement, the company pays about $291,434 in combined local taxes. Railex is reimbursed for that payment by the state as a lingering benefit from the former Empire Zone program.

The program was aimed at rewarding companies that meet certain growth and employment targets. In the case of Railex, Gillen said the company has far exceeded any of the benchmarks that were initially established

“Railex continues to be a great success story,” he said. “They’re actually ahead of schedule with their job targets.”

Each week, Railex runs four temperature-controlled trains from terminals on the West Coast to Rotterdam. Two trains depart from its distribution center in Wallula, Wash., with another pair leaving from a terminal in Delano, Calif.

Company officials continue to mull expansion in the southeast. In September, the company announced it had narrowed the search for a site in the Southeast to Florida and anticipated construction on the new terminal to start sometime this year.

Railex was also considering building a terminus near major Midwestern cities, such as Chicago or St. Louis. Future expansion would all but assure the company would need to grow in Rotterdam, where it can build up to an addition 250,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Regardless of the company’s plans, Gillen remains impressed by the growth Railex has already shown. The company now employs about 300 people in Rotterdam—more than twice the number of workers hired when the facility opened in 2006.

“To do what they’ve done in a short period of time is amazing,” he said.

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